Massachusetts Export Center

 

Worcester Business Journal

 

North County Mayors Talk Business

 

December 10, 2007

 

The leaders charged with bringing economic growth to three North Worcester cities in 2008 and beyond will work toward that goal together. That was the message that Fitchburg mayor-elect Lisa Wong, Gardner mayor-elect Mark Hawke and Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella sent at a wide-ranging panel discussion organized by the Mount Wachusett Community College Center for Democracy and Humanity.


The speakers discussed ways to encourage brownfields development, streamline permitting and help the area's growing immigrant population find good jobs. Hawke said that, rather than thinking of themselves as competitors in attracting businesses, the three communities should realize that a company locating anywhere in the area will benefit neighboring communities.

"There are symbiotic companies that are going to grow up around that business," he said.

Wong also invited area residents to take part in task forces on health care, energy and economic development that she is forming in preparation for taking office in January.


The discussion was part of the community college's "What's Next?" speaker series, which focuses this year on the new economy in the local area.

October Home Sales, Prices Plunge

After a late summer of flat sales, single-family home sales dropped by 17.1 percent in October, the second month in a row the market has experienced double-digit decline, according to a report from the the Warren Group, the Boston-based publisher of Banker & Tradesman.


Single-family home sales dropped by 18.7 percent in September.


Year-to-date single-family home sales were down 7 percent at the end of October from 46,797 during the first 10 months of 2006 to 43,535 this year.


Also, the median price for single-family homes fell in October by the largest percentage so far this year, according to the Warren Group's traditional method of calculating prices.

Bank Earnings Lowest Since 2003

In the third quarter, net income at banks insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation fell to less than $30 billion for the first time since early 2003.


FDIC-insured institutions reported net income of $28.7 billion for the third quarter, a decline of $9.4 billion or 24.7 percent from the third quarter of 2006.


The FDIC said bad mortgage loans, loan delinquency and loss rates were up "across all major loan categories" during the quarter. The FDIC said nearly half of all its insured institutions reported year-over-year earnings declines in the third quarter.

McGovern, Execs Talk Trade, Immigration

Businesses must have a stronger voice in the immigration debate in order to make sure it doesn't devolve entirely into political slogan-slinging, said U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, at a discussion regarding international trade.


The discussion was held at EMC Corp.'s headquarters in Hopkinton and was put on by the Coalition of New England Companies for Trade and the Massachusetts Export Center.


After comments from McGovern, attendees, including Robert Worth, president of Worth Imports of Framingham, asked questions and voiced their concerns. Worth told McGovern, "When I'm looking for unskilled workers, I find it hard to find American-born workers, and when I do, they're bad, scary people."


McGovern said he favors helping illegal immigrants become U.S. citizens. "The business community needs to continue to play a role to inject a little common sense into that debate," he said.

Business Confidence Down in Bay State

A monthly survey of businesses in Massachusetts found that the economy has some a little worried.


The Associated Industries of Massachusetts Business Confidence Index dropped 1.6 points in November to 53.6. AIM said survey respondents are worried that declining home prices and other financial problems could lead to a serious economic downturn. Respondents were more positive about their own companies' situations.


The downturn was driven by companies in Greater Boston, where confidence was down 3.1 percent. In the rest of the state, the numbers were up marginally, but AIM said the regional indexes don't point to a clear trend.


Confidence fell most among manufacturers, down 2.4 percent.


The index is based on a monthly survey of AIM member companies and reported on a 100-point scale.

 

 


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